George & Lizzie by Nancy Pearl
Lizzie is the only child of two revered psychologist professors who treat her more like their own science experiment than their child so it is no wonder that she is an emotional mess. A high school dare gone awry and a lost "love of her life", Lizzie meets George and falls in love...almost. While the noble, stable and completely normal George fights to win her undying love and cure Lizzie's profound sadness, Lizzie meanwhile searches endlessly for the one that got away. She envelops George's family who do their best to give her the family life she never had and tries to keep the demons at bay. A wonderful love story with real people who live in that same screwed up space we all do, dealing with the same issues we all face. George and Lizzie will make you cry, sigh and laugh and we could all do with more of that.
Turtle and her dad live far away from the world in the hills near Mendocino. They live the life of hermits ,a solitary existence where the only people Turtle comes into contact with are her dad, teachers, an angry bus driver and her grandfather. She has no friends and spends all her free time roaming the hills and coast. Her father, Martin, is tough and gentle, a parent and a tyrant, abusive and manipulative so Turtle is caught between love and fear. She is tough as nails but also so fragile and her story will break your heart. Her teacher and people at the middle school want to help her catch up with her studies, an old friend of her parents worries about what kind of relationship they have and her grandfather finds fault with a father who is teaching his twelve year old daughter how to hunt, shoot a variety of guns and survive in the hard world he sees himself in. It will take Jacob, an older boy who reaches out to Turtle to teach her about love and suddenly she finds herself with divided loyalties that could be very dangerous. Vivid, profound writing and a heroine with a heart of gold, Gabriel Tallent is one debut author who is going places.
This memoir is about a little girl who was raised first by her grandmother and then by her grandfather and his very young wife. This sounds innocent enough except the family business were successful adult video shops which then meant Kelly had everything she needed including being sent to a French immersion school in Los Angeles. Kelly was fortunate in that to balance her grandfather's crude remarks and rough behavior, she had a friend in his wife Marilyn. As Kelly grew up her mother's unsolved murder when she was just a baby took on more meaning and she actively pushed to have the cold case reopened and solved. Her story is heartbreaking and honest and it makes us all cherish our family and childhood innocence.
Once again I find myself swept up in the lush imaginings of Diana Gabaldon's second family. What I have come to know as the lesser characters, those who are not Jamie or Claire, come to life in these stories. There are Lord John Grey's practical observations on the creation of zombies that actually sound believable and the sweet adventures of two young Scottish lads acting as mercenaries. The one really wonderful addition to the audio in this collection is the background notes from the Duchess of Time Travel herself. I found her research to be very interesting and it helped me to understand and appreciate why it takes so long between her books. You can enjoy these stories even if you have not read the Outlander series, as if there is anyone left who has not read, heard about or watched some of it.
14 years since the first invasion of the Martians came to Earth and much has changed - we are ready for a fight which is good because that is what the Earth is in for. A much larger invasion is already on its way and the old team seems to be the only ones who might be able to understand them and stop it from complete devastation. I was equally drawn into how close Baxter's style fit that of Wells and how the alternative history worked perfectly. The old gang will soon be back together and the only time I took a step back was to sort out who is narrating each chapter. The world building - 1020's Europe made better by Martian technology is fascinating and you will recognize many of the "real" historical figures dropped in. The characters are both clinical and real as you would expect the Brits during war time. Get out your ray gun and stay away from the ponds of red weed because -"they're back and they are mad".
Cyril has not had an easy life having always lived under the shadow of not being enough - not enough for his natural mother to keep him, not enough for his adoptive parents to stop reminding him that he really isn't their son, not enough for the friend he loves who can't except him for what he is or isn't and not enough to prevent those around him from being hurt. Life goes on and as an adult, Cyril is finally able to admit that he is gay - something he could not do in Ireland without ending up in jail or worse. Characters, both gay and straight, bounce in and out of Cyril's life but he remains reserved, loyal and a sweet soul. John Boyne gives us an epic look at what it was like to be gay early on in Ireland, Amsterdam and later in AIDS ridden New York. You will smile at the witty banter, cry at the tragedy and violence that befalls some and shake your fist in righteous indignation at how stupid people can be when confronted with someone different. His poetic storytelling will stay with you long after you finish the book.
Milo has lived many lives but he is just about out of them. Every time he is reborn he tries to live a better life than the one before then death grabs him (death just happens to be his girlfriend). The challenge is to achieve perfection which it turns out, is really tough. Death is tired and wants to retire but it turns out that this is difficult as well. This very witty book helps us look at human shortcomings and laugh about them. We are imperfect but some of us try hard to overcome, just like Milo, and we always want what we can't have - like Death for a girlfriend. Unique and witty , this story makes you think about how you should live your life and your search for a soulmate and if you are lucky enough to be like Milo and Suzie and find each other then the road is clear.
Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman
Nils Shapiro is a gritty ex-cop turned P.I who is helplessly still in love with his ex-wife. He takes on a case of a brutally murdered "nice" woman in a "nice" suburb of Minneapolis during the day in a snowstorm. Did the ex-husband do it or the rich boyfriend? Maybe it was someone with a secret that she was going to tell. The fact that the police, Nils and the FBI all have some piece of the puzzle should make it easy to solve but it isn't. And, why doesn't this intriguing murder and a string of attractive women that keep throwing themselves at him get his ex-wife off his mind? Moves quickly and ends with something I didn't see coming. Lovers of juicy police dramas will eat this up.
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